Confidence, or lack of it, can be a big issue for people with autism. Often autistic people will feel extremely anxious or un-confident when going in to social situations such as school, college or work. There can be many different reasons for this: One is that anxiety is something that naturally comes along with autism, and therefore the more anxious somebody is before a certain situation, the less confident they are going to be when they are in that situation. Another reason is that because a lot of autistic people struggle so much with their social skills, situations are not always easy for them, and therefore they lose a lot of confidence that they might have had if they knew they`d be able to cope better in a given situation. Also, because autistic people struggle with sensory issues, and things such as sensory/emotional overload, they know that even the most basic of situations can have unseen problems for them —- therefore it is not uncommon for autistic people to lack confidence in seemingly simple situations, and interactions. Because a lot of people with autism do struggle to do things independently, this can also be another factor in how confident they are in a certain situation; they might be confident and happy to do something if they have somebody they trust with them, but lack confidence, and be extremely anxious, if required to do that same thing independently. A lack of confidence in social situations, and busy places, is one of the characteristics of autism. It doesn’t mean that everybody who is autistic is going to lack confidence throughout their life, but the vast majority of autistic people will have experienced incidences where not having enough confidence was a problem for them.
So what can be done to improve confidence? Well in theory, many things. It is a problem if lack of confidence stems from no logical source —- that it is just part of the person`s personality – and can be much harder to deal with, especially if the individual has been bullied, or made fun of in the past, as this will only add to their lack of confidence. But everybody should at least try and to be more confident, because the more confident you are the easier it is to get by in life; the easier you will make friends, and the more opportunities you will get. One of the simplest ways of becoming more confident is simply just to accept who you are. This sounds extremely corny and clichéd, but it is true. For most people, autistic or otherwise, a lack of confidence stems from believing that they are not good enough, and that others will judge them. A person has to realise that they should not live their lives in order to appease other people, and that even if some people don’t like the way theyyou behave, or the way theyyou talk, well that is not the end of the world. Everybody makes judgements about people when they see them, and hear them speak —- even people who claim they don’t —- but ultimately it is up to the individual how much notice they take of those judgements, and whether to let them affect their lives, or not.
Another thing that people can do that is perhaps more practical if they struggle with being independent, or dealing with social situations, is to practise these situation; go over them in your head, and perhaps do some drawings/notes of what they might be like —- plan for it, and be prepared. Be accepting of the fact that you find it difficult, but plan for that as best you can. As with most things relating to autism, forward planning can have a huge impact on how confident you are in many situations. There may be things that work for some people, but don’t work for others. F, for example, some people like to pretend that they are somebody else in different situations —– somebody neuro-typical —- or that they are in a film, so they know what they have to say and do. Others like to simply remind themselves that other people struggle as well, and there are probably many people who lack confidence. One thing some people do —- that you should try to avoid —- is to use alcohol to become more confident in social situations. One thing I have heard several autistic people say is that the only time they are happy to go out with their friends is when they are drinking, and therefore feeling confident because they are uninhibited. It is a simple fact that nobody should be dependent on alcohol to have a good time, and even though I don’t judge people who do use alcohol to become sociable, I think they should do their best to retain some of that confidence even when they don’t drink.
So even though lack of confidence can be a major problem for autistic people, there are ways around it. But the important thing to remember is that if you wait until you feel fully confident to do something, when you have autism the chances are you`ll probably end up doing nothing. Just as somebody can step in to a boxing ring fully confident of winning, and be knocked out in the first round, so too can somebody with autism go in to a social situation with zero confidence, but a desire to make an effort, and come out of it with several new friends, and a new-found feeling of confidence. Having the desire to make an effort is more important than having the confidence that you will succeed.
My name is Paddy-Joe Moran. I am a 19 year old autistic author of two books, and co-founder of autism advice service ASK-PERGERS? If you need any more help or advice about Asperger`s, or simply want to talk about it check out my free help and advice service ASK-PERGERS?